Type: Infant car seat, five-point harness.
Limits: 4 to 35 lbs.
NHTSA ease of use rating: Four out of five stars.
Pros: Light weight (8.7 lbs.); easy install; lots of adjustments.
Cons: Too big for some cars’ back seats; difficult to get level when child is over 20 lbs.
Comments: The new Evenflo LiteMax 35 infant car seat is Evenflo’s first new infant car seat in years. And it appears they’ve done their homework. Weighing at only 8.7 lbs. for the carrier, the LiteMax has an impressively easy plug-in LATCH attachment (see photo below) and simple, one-step belt lock offs for a snug installation.
As usual, Evenflo makes the LiteMax in different versions: a basic model (Essentials) and two upgraded versions: Platinum and Pro Series. This review focuses on the Platinum, since it is the most widely available version of the LiteMax.
We were impressed with the LiteMax Platnium. The harness adjustment is on the front of the seat, plus they’ve added buckle pockets to keep them out of the way when you put baby in the seat or take her out. The base reclines (with a twist of the knob) into multiple positions.
Evenflo also designed this seat with multiple crotch and harness positions and includes an infant insert allowing the seat to fit infants as small as 4 lbs. The level indicator has two settings, one for infants 4-20 lbs., the other for infants over 20 lbs. Finally, Evenflo includes harness strap covers, a “full-coverage” canopy, padded and ergonomic carry handle, and OUTLAST temperature controlling fabric. All that for 150 bucks—not bad.
So with all this ease-of-use goodness, is the LiteMax the perfect infant seat? Not quite, but pretty good. The LiteMax is a large seat, so it may not fit in smaller vehicles—especially since Evenflo requires the site to ride in a vehicle with the handle down. Given the space Evenflo requires between the handle and the front seat (1.5 inches), the LiteMax will probably be a no go in compact cars even with the passenger seat moved all the way forward.
Also, there are so many possible combinations of harness and crotch straps plus recline positions, this seat can easily get confusing to use. And you’ll need to make adjustments as your baby grows, so keep the manual handy. Finally, we found the level adjustment difficult to use to get the correct position for kids over 20 lbs.
As for the other versions of the LiteMax, the Essentials base model ($80) is stripped down with less fancy fabrics and no premium LATCH connectors. The LiteMax Pro Series is a Target exclusive for $130. This model is quite similar to the LiteMax Platinum but adds additional side-impact protection—Evenflo callas this “Lyf Guard.” Basically, these are extra plastic wings on the outside of the seat that can absorb more energy in a side-impact crash, Evenflo claims. (Unfortunately, with no side impact safety standards in effect yet for the US, it’s hard to verify this).
New for late 2018, Evenflo will release yet another version of the LiteMax called the LiteMax DLX. This seat will feature several interesting upgrades: a five-position headrest, load leg, no-rethread harness and European belt path. Price: $170. That would make the DLX one of the few (only?) infant car seats with a load leg (which helps in crash protection to keep a seat from rotating forward) that is under $200.
So what’s the verdict on the LiteMax? In short, we like it. The under 9 lb carrier is impressive and Evenflo has done a good job on these seat’s overall ease of use features. Compared to Evenflo’s older seats (the Embrace, Nurture), the LiteMax is a good step forward. Most readers who’ve used the LiteMax tell us they are happy . . . as long as they have a vehicle big enough to fit the seat.
Stroller compatibility is one drawback to the LiteMax. Besides Evenflo’s own strollers, there are few other stroller brands that make Evenflo adapters. So unless you are planning to pair this seat with an Evenflo stroller, the LiteMax’s utility is limited.